Aylesbury as a music town – from the fifties to Friars

For many years, Aylesbury had an excellent reputation as a “music town”, with a wide variety of live music across different genres. The main venues were the Grosvenor Ballroom / Borough Assembly Hall, the Granada Theatre, the Town Hall, Walton Hall and Aylesbury Social Club – and also pubs, such as the Derby Arms.

This site is part of a wider movement to recognise Aylesbury as a music town, both in the past and going forward. By drawing attention to Aylesbury’s amazing musical past, we hope that this will encourage more music events in the town in the future.

This site covers the pre-Friars period from around the mid-1950s through to 1969. For the Friars period please go to the Friars Aylesbury website, where you will find comprehensive information of everything that happened at Friars Aylesbury from 1969 to the present day.

Please use the search box to find what you are interested in, or follow the links below.

We would love to hear your memories of music in Aylesbury. Please contact us through the form below, or email admin@aylesburymusictown.co.uk.

What’s next?

We would like to add details of local bands and artists from this era, and also details of what was going on in smaller venues, such as pubs. We would also love to talk to people about their memories of the gigs in Aylesbury and any memorabilia they might have, or if they played in a band during this period. If you can help, please do get in touch via the email address above.

The Granada Theatre in the High Street presented stage shows between 1958 and 1964. These were “pop package” shows which toured around the country, with two shows a night and many artists on the bill. Artists appearing included the Rolling Stones, Gene Vincent, Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele, Billy Fury and Adam Faith.

See links: 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964

From 1959 to the mid 1960s, the Aylesbury Jazz Club (run by Nanda and Ron Lesley) promoted trad jazz. All of the major artists in the world of trad jazz appeared in Aylesbury, including Ken Colyer, Chris Barber, Kenny Ball, Acker Bilk and Humphrey Lyttelton. Between 1959 and 1961 there were a number of “all-nite jazz balls” at the Grosvenor. In 1964, as the popularity of trad jazz declined, Nanda and Ron changed to Aylesbury Bluesville with bands such as The Animals, The Yardbirds, Manfred Mann and Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, as well as visiting artists including John Lee Hooker, Little Walter and Inez and Charlie Foxx.

See links: 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965

Rock music first appeared at the Grosvenor Ballroom in 1960. Eddie Friday promoted gigs on Saturday nights throughout the period until 1968; other promoters included Stanley Wyatt, Paul Haywood, Cyril Meichtry and Adrian Hopkins. From October 1963, the ownership of the hall was taken over by the council and the name was changed from the Grosvenor to the Borough Assembly Hall. Artists appearing included Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, The Barron Knights, The Hollies, The Who, The Small Faces, Cream and Jimi Hendrix.

See links: 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969

Saturday nights at the Aylesbury Social Club begain in 1968. To start with there were live bands playing soul and reggae each week until early 1970, when DJs took over most weeks, with occasional appearances by artists such as Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon, Desmond Dekker, The Maytals and Jimmy Ruffin. At the time there was a broad split between those who went to the “Social” (mods and skinheads who dressed immaculately) and the Friars crowd (hippies and alternative culture).

See links: 1968, 1969

Local pubs, such as the Derby Arms, were venues for folk, blues and jazz.

Note: This site does not cover classical music in Aylesbury. This deserves to be covered as a separate project. There was an active Aylesbury Music Club that promoted classical music in the town. Aylesbury born composer Rutland Broughton (1878-1960) retained links with the town throughout his life, and wrote a piece entitled “Aylesbury Games”.

10 thoughts on “Aylesbury as a music town – from the fifties to Friars

  1. Dallan Mulley

    Can not remember the year but saw The Animals perform in the 60’s.

  2. Stephen Daglish

    The Animals played four times in Aylesbury in 1964 – including the week that House of the Rising Sun was number one. There is more here:
    http://aylesburymusictown.co.uk/2016/05/20/1964-aylesbury-jazz-club-bluesville/

    • Anthony Barker

      Hey I lived in Aylesbur, Buckingham Rd from 1952. I remember going to school with Nigel Menday. The name always sticks in my memory because because Nigel had a deformed hand if I’m right and it always impressed that he could play the drums let alone go on to play professionally. Apologies Nigel if I got that bit wrong.
      I also remember a Paul Fish who I think went on to a career in music, anyone remember him.
      Christ we’re going back some years.
      Good luck

  3. Nigel Menday

    Yeah…I played drums at the Granada in Aylesbury in 1962 as part of the Bobby Vee Meets the Crickets rock tour…I was playing for the Crickets and my Mum&Dad hosted my birthday party in Limes Avenue when we came to Aylesbury. The whole show came to it …Memories!

    • Stephen Daglish

      Amazing story! Tony White wrote in his review of the show in the Bucks Advertiser – “Special mention must be made of local boy Nigel Menday, drummer with the Russ Sainty group … Sixteen years-old Nigel, recognised by many of his friends in the audience, was on-stage for most of the show and coped ably with his ordeal.” The article is here:
      http://aylesburymusictown.co.uk/2016/05/08/granada-aylesbury-1962-stage-shows/

    • Jim Harding

      I performed as Chris Trent with the Whispering four with Nigel,Noel,Mike and Rocky all around the Aylesbury area until 1962.
      Still rockin now at the grand old age of 78.

  4. Jim Harding

    If anyone wants to get in touch give me call. 01296623802

  5. Matin bourke

    Who renders the concrete parachute
    A local aylesdury band of the mid sixtys

    • Stephen Daglish

      Hi Martin, will be including Concrete Parachute with other local bands in the coming months. Any info, photos, etc., would be very welcome!

  6. Ref: Concrete Parachute I worked with band member Ian Myers (bass) we worked at Radio Rentals Friars Square

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